habituation

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Matt Barton's picture

Habituation (Bogost on casual gaming)

Chess: Easy to learn, hard to master?Chess: Easy to learn, hard to master?I recently read Ian Bogost's book How to do Things with Videogames and was quite impressed. There are many good essays in this book worth discussing, and hopefully once this hellish semester/winter from hell is over, I'll actually have some time to blog about them. At any rate, one in particular that I think will interest folks here is called "Habituation," which tries to complicate Bushnell's argument that a great game is easy to learn, but hard to master.

According to Bogost, this maxim is misunderstood. Most people assume that this maxim applies to the game mechanics or rules being easy to master, but what it really refers to is conceptual familiarity. The reason Pong succeeded where the earlier Computer Space did not is that most people are already familiar with ping pong, so they brought a lot to the table, so to speak. By contrast, Computer Space was based on the game Spacewar!, which only a tiny fraction of people had played, and no one was familiar with the zero-G dogfight.

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